The top 100 film of the 21st Century (so far)


A story of note in the movie world was the BBC publishing the results of a survey of 177 film critics from dozens of countries about what the best films of the 21st century are to date. They have a detailed not only to the results but all 177 top 10 lists which is arguably more interesting (website is here).

Inevitably the results led to much discussion and debate, so why not do that here?
The top 10 were:
10. No Country for Old Men (Joel and Ethan Coen, 2007)
9. A Separation (Asghar Farhadi, 2011)
8. Yi Yi: A One and a Two (Edward Yang, 2000)
7. The Tree of Life (Terrence Malick, 2011)
6. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (Michel Gondry, 2004)
5. Boyhood (Richard Linklater, 2014)
4. Spirited Away (Hayao Miyazaki, 2001)
3. There Will Be Blood (Paul Thomas Anderson, 2007)
2. In the Mood for Love (Wong Kar-wai, 2000)
1. Mulholland Drive (David Lynch, 2001)

Suffice to say it certainly has an international flavour as isn’t heavily biased towards American cinema (or English-language cinema) as has often been the case with lists like this in the past.

Personally, I’m not really qualified to comment on them as I’ve seen very few – probably less than 20 – but I do have some observations.

The biggest surprise in the top 100 list was the absence absence of any Alexander Payne films. Notwithstanding that his best film was probably done last century (Election) and I always haven’t been satisifed by his recent films, he’s still a high-class filmmaker who has usually had a high rep amongst critics. To be specific, Sideways was one of the most acclaimed films of its year and I thought would’ve been a certainty to be in the top 100, yet only two out of the 177 critics mentioned it. And About Schmidt (definitely one of my favourite films this century) didn’t even get mentioned once.

I was also a bit disappointed that some of George Clooney’s best work as actor/director was overlooked – both ‘Good Night… And Good Luck’ and ‘Michael Clayton’ got mentioned by just two critics each. Also, I was surprised at the lack of mentions (two) for ‘Ghost World’ – perhaps it just came too early in the century.
I was interested that Kenneth Lonergan’s ‘Margaret’ managed to get as high as 31 on the list. I thought it was a fine film when I saw it but I do wonder whether it would’ve gotten so high if not for being delayed in post-production for years and it became a ’cause celebre’ for some critics.

Looking over the individual submissions, probably the least deserving was such mediocre Hollywood comedies like ‘Bridesmaids’ and ‘Tropic Thunder’ (both voted twice!). And yes, one of the most maligned filmmakers of his era in Michael Bay got a vote from a critic (for ‘Pain And Gain’).



One response »

  1. I’ve seen 84 of the films (including all of the top ten), and kind of impressed myself. Needless to say, I disagree with much here. I think Mulholland Drive, while intriguing, is wildly over-rated, and some of those Thai films put me to sleep. Glad to see Wes Anderson well represented, and the Coen Brothers, but no Adaptation, which is my favorite film of the century so far.

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